Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) graduate Paskaline Ngunaihe is empowering and developing young women and the girl-child through her non-profit organisation, Her Liberty Namibia (HLN), which is also led by young women.
Ngunaihe says HLN envisions a united women’s movement, wherein young women and girls are self-reliant and are fully aware of their ability to influence their societies.
“Our mission is to equip young women and girls with the tools that enable them to harness their livelihood whilst providing them with continuous platforms for self-sustainability,” she says.
HLN raises awareness on issues affecting young women and the girl-child; educates via skills and knowledge expansion on entrepreneurship; organises young women and girls’ social support groups; advocates for gender equality and protection of women’s rights; strengthens networks among stakeholders and members on issues faced locally and regionally; and develops and maintains partnerships.
Ngunaihe says they aim to empower and develop young women and the girl-child through personal and leadership development, social and economic empowerment, self-esteem and confidence building, sexual reproductive health, including HIV and ADIS projects.
“We are creating an enabling environment in which young women and girls can act as catalysts for change in Namibia’s society and various communities,” she affirms.
Ngunaihe adds that she has always volunteered in community work, not knowing that one day it will be a ticket to meet the first family of the United States of America (USA) and to effect change in her own community.
“I applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme, because of the impactful work that I was doing and because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from the best universities in the world and to come back and implement it through projects and partnerships in the whole of Africa, United States and in Namibia.
“I was the only Namibian out of the nine who went to the States who did the civic leadership track of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders training at Rutgers University in New Jersey, United States in 2014,” she says.
The fellowship is the flagship programme of US President Barack Obama’s YALI, which is meant to empower young leaders during six weeks of leadership training in the USA. Ngunaihe’s HLN was established in November 2012, stimulated by young women and girls who pride themselves in seeking change within their social and economic environment.
Meanwhile applications for the 2017 intake into the YALI programme are now open and online applications are available on the YALI website for submission before or on October 26. The Namibia United States Alumni Association (Nusaa) recently held an outreach day in Keetmanshoop to promote the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship and to assist with applications into the programme.
Twenty Namibians took part in the 2016 programme and 30 are expected to qualify for 2017, Nusaa member, Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi told Nampa. The programme is open to young professionals between 25 and 35 years of age, while provision is made for the acceptance of exceptional candidates younger than 25.
Ngunaihe, who went to New Jersey, USA in 2014, told the applicants that it would be great to have a participant who is originally from the south of Namibia in next year’s programme, since no-one from the South has ever been on the programme.